In this particular case, I am exerting my right to use caps in my headline. With good reasons. What I dutifully announced here has finally been tested, thoroughly and with increasing bliss. The Split Banana Ice Cream Parlor in Staunton, Va.
It all started like this:
We see here a thoughtful founder with his crowbar, considering the administrations necessary to create what eventually was to become one of the most awesome ice cream and gelato venues I have ever seen.
How it turned out is more or less like the picture here above, with people moving eagerly around in front of the counter to get a better idea of the stunning selection of flavors, and others moving equally fast behind, to serve their customers in the best and most effective manner.
During two weeks of intense work, I have tested the majority of flavors and styles available at the Split Banana. What I found is a stunning example of how well the simple philosophy, to use high-quality, preferably locally produced, ingredients, can work out, if the preparation is then inspired by an unfailing dedication to perfection.
During my stay, I was, for example, the witness of a significant upgrade of the Pistachio flavor which was excellent to begin with. The upgraded version could best be described as gelatified freshly roasted pistachios-in-a-bowl, of an intensity I had never tasted before.
Many of the flavors are surprising, not always in their suddenness and intensity, but often in their subtlety. Whereas, for example, the coconut bounces around in your mouth shouting Fresh! Fresh! in a silly giggle (the best coconut ice cream – or was it gelato? – I ever had), the Virginia peach (in September just as fresh as the former) is astonishingly mild and mellow, and not half as belligerent as your average up-sugared fruit products tend to come across.
Many flavors are traditional but are assembled with just that little extra bit of dedication. The sorbets are all perfect, and the corn-syrup-aware crowd will appreciate that they are made with honey – yet they lack that demonstrative what-am-I-healty taste known from many, otherwise just fine, ‘responsible’ sweets.
A few of the creations are daring, and have, as I heard, their respective fan crowds. One that comes to mind is the unlikely pineapple-basil match, which blends into a surprising and fresh aroma other than either of these ingredients. The other is a peppery ancho-chocolate combination for the grown ups.
My special favorite was butter-pecan, but then one day there was peanut, based on prime-quality local peanut butter. Imagine this as a milkshake…
Being torn between such alternatives does nevertheless injustice to all the other flavors, no matter whether we’re looking at the lemon sorbet, chocolate, maple syrup or any of the others, until we arrive at the right-hand side of the counter where we find the somewhat silly and rightfully hugely popular birthday cake ice cream mixed with m+m’s.
(And did I mention the banana split?)
Great sorbet in other words, great gelato, great ice cream and a nice location in the very center of a lovely city.